Today, the line between marketing and writing a book has been erased; today’s social media makes it’s easier than ever to build your personal brand by writing a book. With a little planning, you can write your book while building your brand!

Think of your book as a giant jigsaw puzzle; each of your blog posts becomes a separate piece of the puzzle!

Advantages of the jigsaw puzzle analogy

There are numerous advantages to writing a book as a series of blog posts. The most important is that any project becomes easier when you break it up into a series of relatively small tasks.

For many, the idea of writing a book is intimidating; it just seems like such a big job. And, if you think about writing 5,000 words–or 50,000 words–at a single sitting, it is a big job.

But, when you view 5,000 words as ten 500 word segments, writing a book suddenly becomes more feasible, especially if you only need to write 500 words a week!

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn; I’m still learning it. As I’ve written before, I was able to do term papers–including my Honors thesis–in bursts of overnight excellence. Only recently have I realized how unhealthy and how unsatisfying last-minute writing can be; it not only puts the last-minute writer under tremendous stress, it prevents the rich reflection that can take place when you have time to write and review before going public with your words.

How long does it take to write 500 words? You’ve just read 262 words- -and I’ve barely gotten started!

Another way to view 500 words is to think in terms of 4 good-sized paragraphs, like the one above, and 4 shorter one-sentence and two-sentence paragraphs (like this), or slightly longer.

If you can blog once a week, you’re on your way to a published book. If you can blog twice a week, you’re well on your way to a published book.

In addition to writing your book in a series of short working sessions, writing your book as a series of blog posts also promotes your book while you’re writing it. This gives you an opportunity to test your market’s reaction to your ideas while building anticipation for your book.

Example of “jigsaw puzzle blogs” at work

Many enterprising authors have written books based on their blog posts. One example includes Guy Kawasaki’sReality Check.

How to get started

There are two ways to get started:

  • Serendipity approach. One approach is to “blog what you want to say” each day (or week) and, after a while–which could be 6 months to a year–you assemble the blog posts into a book. This is an OK approach if you take your blog writing seriously, and write each post as an exploration of an idea, topic, or challenge your market faces. The advantage of this approach is that you may be very surprised by the insights you discover when you go back and review your blog posts. The disadvantage is, When do you stop blogging and start on your book?
  • Systematic approach. Another approach is to “start with the end” and identify the information you want to include in your book, and create a detailed table of contents for your book. Basically, you write each blog post as part of each chapter in your book. Each blog posts becomes the basis either a complete chapter, or as one of the subhead topics within each chapter. The advantages of this approach are that each blog post takes you closer to your personal brand-building book, and you can easily track your progress. The disadvantage is that it may be difficult to “see the whole” before you “assemble the parts.”

Neither approach is perfect, but, while exploring the options, you’re likely to create your own blend of Serendipity and Systematic.

For example, you might decide to post twice a week. One post will be “required content” for a specific location in a specific chapter. The second post will be on topic that you’re passionate about, but not necessarily sure where it will fit into your book.

The process is what counts

In either case, of course, the process is what’s most important. By taking action, by committing to an aggressive blogging program during 2010, and committing to getting a book published during 2010, you’re undertaking a journey that will change you and your relationship to your market.

Nothing, ever, is really predictable. Unexpected challenges and opportunities are likely to show up along the way.

But, when you proactively take the helm and set sail to a stronger personal brand during 2010, the journey begins and you are opening yourself up to new opportunities and personal branding possibilities.

Are you willing to act? Or, will 2010 be just one more year of “business as usual?”